The frisky unrest of Billy De Beckâs style did not prove hospitable, in those early decades of the century, to ingenious plot architecture. The veerings of his inventions often supplanted suspense with the narrative veerings of a Henry Fielding or Tobias Smollett: a little more erotic, and Barney might have been a humorous gallivanter. But balcony scenes, innocuous or otherwise, found no place in Billy De Beckâs celebration of middle-aged buoyancy and enterprise.
Frank Owenâs Ossie Tittle â an eccentric, outdoorsy Goon Show of a strip, fascinated this writerâs semi-infancy (6-7 years) during the corresponding calendar year of 1936. A Sunday strip in the all-color comics supplement of Hearstâs Sunday Mirror, for at least a couple of months, it was a solid chunk of imagine fodder, judging by my memories of the drawing. The cast recalled Washington Irvingâs Ichabod Crane: a positive flock of scarecrows, grown-up Raggedy Anns and Andys, bolted from the cornfields.
Donald Phelps continues to meditate on Calder Willingham’s novel about moral ambiguity and homosexuality, open and repressed, in a military academy.
A saturnine saga of an American bozoâs (Spencer Tracy as Tom Garner) mottled rise to eminence as a railway tycoon: The Power and the Glory (screenplay by Preston Sturges, direction, William K. Howard) opens with the tycoonâs sumptuous funeral mass. Then, between flashback episodes, a middle-aged couple (a longtime friend/employee, Henry, and his skeptical wife) debate Garnerâs qualities as an American icon.
A freely flowing course of lusty fantasy, with just sufficient tongue in its cheek to lighten both sentimentality and terror: sufficient for any comic-strip devotee to murmur hasta la vista to an endearing borderline-camp labor of nostalgic love.
Besides Joseph Losey, one filmmaker, to my knowledge, provided David Wayneâs talents and presence with fully ample and honorable space: star stature.
Previously: Part One.
An appreciation of character actor David Wayne.
Angelo Patriâs Pinocchio in America is a a saga of immigrant boyhood in the U. S. A that actually enlarges upon the original’s florid melodramatics and earthy vigor.
Preston Sturges’s Diamond Jim â the corpulent life and gastronomic loves of 19th-century entrepreneur and (as here depicted by Edward Arnold) zealous chowhound, James Brady â is (as directed by Edward Sutherland, from Sturgesâ screenplay) a cheerfully sensual …
Phelps critiques the book and the subsequent stage and film adaptations.